Time limit may decrease for Catastrophic Illness Cards
By Katherine Wei ,The China Post
July 12, 2014, 12:15 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) recently announced that it is considering shortening the time limit of Catastrophic Illness Cards (CIC) in the future, to lessen the pressure on the National Health Insurance system.
According to the NHIA, the amount of National Health Insurance spent on catastrophic illnesses amounted to NT$162.5 billion in 2013, indicating that NT$28 of every NT$100 was spent on treating serious illnesses. The dramatic increase in cancer patients also resulted in a hike in the number of Catastrophic Illness Cards.
The NHIA has also asked National Taiwan University Hospital and the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center to review their respective validity periods of the Catastrophic Illness Cards issued regarding the top 10 types of cancers with larger numbers of patients.
The said hospitals are encouraged to cut short the validity period for CIC-holding patients with curable cancers or cancers with shorter treatment programs so as to lessen the pressure on the National Health Insurance system.
There were more than 920,000 people holding CICs at the end of 2013, but the NHIA reported that it has issued over 980,000 of the cards because roughly 60,000 cardholders have two or more illnesses that require more than one card.
The cardholders were mostly cancer patients, at a whopping 480,000; the card allowed them to receive subsidies when they went to the doctor or had to stay in hospitals.
According to an estimate of the NHIA, an average CIC patient spends NT$3.3 million on treatment each year, which is 131 times the amount of an average person's yearly health insurance payments. The treatment for hemophilia costs the most among all the diseases, said the NHIA. If the average citizen paid NT$19,965 for National Health Insurance each year, the treatment for each hemophilia patient would call for the financial support of 166 average citizens' health insurance payments.
The CICs of cancer patients are valid for five years currently, said NHIA official Lin A-ming. The CIC validity periods of specific cancer patients that the National Taiwan University Hospital and the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center were asked to cut short includes breast cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer, all of which were common among the Taiwanese. Hospitals should evaluate the validity periods essential for different types of cancers.